56 pages 1 hour read

Thomas Pynchon

The Crying of Lot 49

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1966

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Chapters 1-2Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

Content Warning: This novel discusses individuals who have an addiction and a substance-use disorder. The novel handles topics of substance use and addiction. It also handles topics of suicide, self-harm, and mental illness.

The novel begins in Kinneret, California, in the summer of 1964. Oedipa Maas returns home after attending a party. She discovers a letter, in which a lawyer explains she has been named as the executor of her ex-boyfriend’s estate. Pierce Inverarity was a rich real estate magnate. His estate is a mess, Oedipa learns. As she thinks about Pierce, Oedipa is struck by a series of strange reveries. She feels as though she may be sick, and she remembers the last time she spoke to Pierce. She remembers his habit of mimicking celebrities’ voices as well as ethnic stereotypes and regional accents. Oedipa quietly accepts her role as executor of Pierce’s estate, even though she knows nothing about what this entails. Her husband, Mucho Maas—now a radio presenter and a former car salesman who suffers regular "crises of confidence about his profession" (3)—is not likely to know much more than her. Oedipa is worried about her husband's mental health; he left his job as a salesman because he "believed too much in the lot" and could not tolerate the sales tactics used by his colleagues (6).